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Prescription Medication Abuse FAQ

FAQ: Which Prescription Medications are the Most Widely Abused, and Why?

Most people are aware of the fact that prescription medications are commonly abused in the U.S. However, what you may not have known is that there are certain ones that are more popular than others. There are a lot of reasons why these drugs are more commonly abused.

Perhaps you're someone who abuses prescription drugs, or maybe you know someone who does. Either way, this is good information for you to know. If you or someone you love is an abuser, you may find the drug of choice on this list.

Most Abused Prescription Drugs

Why are Prescription Medications Frequently Abused?

People often think of drug abuse or addiction as applying to illegal drugs like cocaine or heroin. However, that's not the case much of the time. It's quite common in the United States for people to abuse and become addicted to their prescriptions. There are a few different reasons why this is so typical.

One reason is that people often begin abusing their medications accidentally. They're not aware that this could eventually be a problem for them. They assume that their medicine is safe, even though they always having abuse/addiction warnings on them. It comes as quite a shock for many people who form addictions this way.

Another reason is simply because these medications are highly addictive. They can produce a high when people take higher doses than they should. They're legal, which makes them attractive for recreational purposes. As they are repeatedly abused, addiction is often the result.

Commonly Misused Prescribed Drugs

There are thousands of prescribed medications on the market today. However, many of these are safe. Even the ones that can be addictive are generally safe when they're used appropriately. Still, there are some medications that are more commonly abused than others.

Barbiturate medications are often prescribed to help with sleep problems and anxiety. There are some that are very effective at treating seizure disorders. Examples of commonly abused barbiturates include:

  • Phenobarbital
  • Nembutal
  • Seconal
  • Amytal
  • Tuinal

Barbiturates are classified as sedative hypnotics. This explains how they help to induce sleep and reduce anxiety.

Most people who abuse barbiturates do so because their medication stops working well for them. They may not get the results they're looking for, and increase their dosages on their own. This is very dangerous. Not only can it lead to addiction, but a coma or even death are also possible.

Benzodiazepines are also known as tranquilizers. These medications may be prescribed for anxiety, insomnia, muscle relaxation and seizures. Benzos work by acting on the central nervous system in the body.

Some of the more commonly abused Benzodiazepine drugs include:

  • Valium
  • Libruim
  • Ativan
  • Xanax
  • Halcion

Part of the problem is that Benzos are so widely available in the United States. Many doctors will prescribe them willingly. Again, a lot of people will become addicted to these medications on accident. However, they are commonly used as drugs for recreational abuse as well.

High doses of Benzos can produce dangerous side effects, such as breathing problems and confusion. It's possible to fall into a coma after taking too much of this type of drug. People will often drink while taking Benzodiazepines, which can be deadly.

Insomnia and other sleep problems are some of the most common complaints in the U.S. In fact, according to WebMD, as many as 50% of Americans suffer from insomnia. As a result, many people are placed on prescribed sleeping medications.

These drugs are not intended to be given to people long-term. However, more often than not, that's exactly what happens.

Some of the more commonly prescribed sleeping medicines include:

  • Ambien
  • Sonata
  • Lunesta
  • Restoril
  • Silenor

These and other sleeping medications can be helpful for those who need them. However, when they're abused, they can also be quite dangerous.

Abusing sleeping pills can take a number of forms. Some people simply take them for too long. Others may purchase them on the street or online illegally. It's also quite common to take them along with alcohol, or even other drugs.

Opiates are some of the most popular prescribed medications. In fact, it is estimated that as many as 2.1 million people abuse opioid pain relievers in the U.S. Most of these drugs are painkillers, and they are highly addictive. When abused, they produce a euphoric high. It may not take long to become addicted to them. Many people begin abusing opiates, and then eventually move on to abusing heroin.

Some of the more commonly abused opiate medications include:

  • Oxycodone
  • Vicodin
  • Percocet
  • Codeine
  • Morphine

One of the main reasons opiates are so popular is because of the number of prescriptions written for them. In 2013, there were 207 million prescriptions written for these drugs in the U.S. alone.

Amphetamines are prescribed stimulants that are usually used to treat ADD and ADHD. However, they can be used to treat other conditions as well. These medications are very popular among college students. They may use them recreationally, or as a study aid.

Commonly abused amphetamines include:

  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Concerta
  • Focalin
  • Strattera

Amphetamines, like other drugs, can be very helpful to someone who needs them. However, these medications are dangerous when they are abused. An addiction can happen quickly, and this carries a number of consequences and risks.

Prescription Pill Abuse Statistics in the United States

People who abuse their medicine often think that they're alone when this isn't true at all. This problem has actually been called an epidemic because it's gotten completely out of hand.

According to SAMHSA:
  • In 2014, about 15 million people ages 12 and older used prescribed medications non-medically.
  • 6.5 million of these individuals used them within the last month.
  • These drugs are misused more often than any other drug except for alcohol and marijuana.
  • Between 1999 and 2010, opioid sales increased four-fold.
  • There was also a four-fold increase in the number of overdose deaths.
  • The number of treatment admissions during this time period increased six-fold.
  • 12.7% of new illicit drug users started by using prescribed pain relievers.
  • It costs more than $72 billion in medical costs each year to treat opioid abuse and addiction.

What You Can do to Recover from a Prescription Drug Addiction

When you are abusing prescription drugs, or you are addicted to them, it can feel hopeless. You may feel like you're stuck, and that you're just destined to take them forever. Here at Northpoint Washington, we want you to know that this is not the case at all.

The right kind of prescription drug rehab is available to you if you're an addict. If you haven't gotten addicted to your medicine yet, you may want to consider counseling. Talking with a counselor can help you work through the issues that may have led to the problem. It's important to know and understand why you started abusing your medication. Once you know this, you can take the right steps to stop.

You might find it helpful to talk with someone about your prescription medication abuse problem. First and foremost, you need to know if you have an addiction to the drugs you're taking. We offer a free phone assessment that can help you through this process.

Do you have questions about prescribed medications that you're currently taking? We can answer them for you. Please contact us today.